Back in February, I spoke to Heartbeats For Life, a group of people interested in preventive heart health and Dean Ornish's lifestyle program. I talked about women and heart disease and the importance of diet and exercise. As a result, I was invited to present to Oasis, an educational program for older adults. I'm also giving the talk on Sunday to the Rochester Area Vegetarian Society.
Yesterday, I went to Oasis to present the talk. I guess the brochure made me sound like this would be a good presentation, as I had a full audience. Everything that could go wrong did. My computer wouldn't boot up, since unknown to me there had been an update to the system last week and all the logins were wiped out. So, here I am, standing in front of an audience of 40 people, and I can't present my slides! To burn time while one of the staff members tried to hook up a computer system that I could use, I introduced myself, and offered to answer questions about women's health and heart disease. Slowly, the questions came in, enough so that I could ad-lib until I had a functional computer that would run my slides!
First I discuss women and heart disease. That gets lots of interested looks and questions. Then I talk about obesity and how Americans are getting fatter since we eat badly and don't exercise.
And then I talk about vegetarian diets. Blank stares. More about the Ornish diet, how vegetarians live longer and are healthier. More blank stares. Then about dairy and the myths behind it, that milk doesn't reduce osteoporosis. Continued blank stares.
And finally, I get to the topic of exercise and cardiac rehabilitation, and it looks like my audience is now with me again. I finish and answer several audience questions.
In all, I'm not so sure how well it went. I had some positive feedback afterward from some of the participants, but I wonder what some of the others were thinking. Maybe the vegetarian stuff was too much? Perhaps it challenged too many preconceived notions, particularly the dairy part? The dairy industry has its hooks so far into the American public that milk is necessary for bone health, and yet there is no single study that shows that increased dairy consumption reduces osteoporosis. In fact it's the exact opposite -- countries with the most dairy consumption have the most osteoporosis.
Perhaps if I give the talk again to a non-vegetarian group, I'll tone down the vegetarian/dairy stuff a bit. I'm not sure. I'm very interested to hear what people had to say.